Your Friday Briefing

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Good morning,

We’re covering new tariffs in the U.S.-China trade war, the delay in a proposed abortion measure in Alabama, and Uber’s stock-market debut.


A port in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province.CreditCHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

White House officials said talks would resume today, but it’s unclear whether the two sides can bridge the differences that have arisen over the past week.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced that it would “take necessary countermeasures,” although it gave no specifics. China already has tariffs on nearly all American imports.

Closer look: President Xi Jinping is China’s most powerful leader in decades, but if economic ties with the U.S. are mismanaged it could tarnish his authority.

Related: Global markets largely rose today, as investors bet that a deal could still be reached.

President Trump acknowledged on Thursday that “nobody’s happy” after the North launched short-range ballistic missiles for the second time in a week.

Newly released satellite images also revealed a huge, years-old base that appears to have been designed to hide and protect the North’s growing arsenal of long-range missiles. The photographs add to the evidence suggesting that the nuclear threat from North Korea remains.

Another angle: Hours after the test, the Justice Department said that it had seized North Korea’s second-largest cargo vessel over international sanctions violations. The timing of the announcement appeared coincidental.

Related: Mr. Trump plans to nominate the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, to fill the role permanently. The announcement on Thursday followed a Pentagon investigation that found that Mr. Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, had not acted improperly when discussing military contractors.

President Trump’s personal lawyer said he planned to travel to the country in the coming days to urge its president-elect to keep alive two investigations that Mr. Trump’s allies hope could help his re-election campaign.

One concerns the origin of the special counsel’s Russia investigation; the other is about the involvement of former Vice President Joseph Biden’s son Hunter in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.

Quotable: “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Mr. Giuliani said.


President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to transform Mexico.CreditPedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador won a landslide victory last year on a platform of fighting corruption, withdrawing the military from the streets and standing up to President Trump’s border policies.

But the country still looks a lot like the one he vowed to leave behind, our correspondents in Mexico City write.

Mr. López Obrador’s approval ratings remain high, but corruption and murder are stubbornly rife, and his strategy to combat violence resembles policies he once denounced. He has also mostly refrained from challenging the immigration agenda of the U.S., Mexico’s most important trading partner.

Response: The government says it remains committed to treating migrants with dignity and that the Constitution has already been altered to make corruption, fuel theft and electoral fraud serious felonies. Changes in education and labor policy are also said to be on the horizon.


CreditPhoto illustration by Mike McQuade

“We didn’t think of each other merely as cousins. We were best friends. Then three years ago, my cousin tried to kill me.”

The cover story of The Times Magazine this week is a deeply personal essay from a writer who was drawn to his cousin’s strength and bravado, until he was forced to come to terms with how that idea of masculinity had poisoned their lives.

Delay for abortion bill: A procedural dispute, which erupted into shouts on the floor of Alabama’s Senate on Thursday, held up a measure that would impose a near-total ban.

Chelsea Manning is released: The former Army intelligence analyst had been held for two months for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She has been subpoenaed to testify before a new grand jury next week, and may return to jail.

Uber’s public offering: Stock in the ride-hailing company will begin trading today at $45 a share, valuing it at $82.4 billion — less than investors had hoped.

Facebook pushes back: The company has rejected a suggestion, made in a Times Op-Ed by Chris Hughes, one of its co-founders, that it be broken up. “You don’t enforce accountability by calling for the breakup of a successful American company,” Facebook said in a statement.


CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Snapshot: Above, President Trump welcomed the 2018 World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, to the White House on Thursday. The team’s manager, Alex Cora, and some of its biggest stars did not attend, to protest how Mr. Trump handled the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Money misspelling: Australia issued 46 million new 50-dollar notes in October. Months later, someone spotted a typo.

News quiz: Did you follow the headlines this week? Test yourself.

Modern Love: This week’s column, a finalist in our college essay contest, wonders why men can’t say “I love you” to each other.

Late-night comedy: President Trump said on Thursday that the Mueller report showed “essentially no collusion.” Jimmy Fallon responded: “That’s like a waiter walking over and going, ‘Here’s your salad. There’s essentially no E. coli in it.’”

What we’re reading: This post on Lainey Gossip. Claire Cain Miller, who writes about gender for The Times, says it’s a smart and enlightening analysis of Harry and Meghan’s introduction of their baby. They used the occasion to send a message about inclusivity and a riposte to their critics, explains the blog’s co-founder and writer. “It’s Jedi-level P.R.”


CreditLinda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.


The New York Stock Exchange.CreditSpencer Platt/Getty Images

Our financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin responded:

It is possible that a country like the U.S. can have a healthy economy and debt at the same time. The problem is “too much” debt, meaning a level that makes big investors unwilling to buy our treasuries at reasonable interest rates.

To the surprise of many economists, the U.S. has been able to take on vast debt without losing investor confidence. There is even a school of thought among progressives who support the Green New Deal that the U.S. can and should expand deficits. It’s called Modern Monetary Theory.

In the long term, it is hard to believe that increasing our debt will prove helpful, but many political leaders think shorter term, since they won’t be in their roles by the time the chickens come home to roost.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris and Mike

Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Kenneth R. Rosen for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about a call to break up Facebook by one of its co-founders.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Hit the books (5 letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• One of the most-emailed Times articles on Thursday was a critique of the Aperol spritz.

Chris Stanford is the writer of the U.S. edition of the Morning Briefing. He also compiles a weekly news quiz. He was previously a home page producer at The Times. Before 2013, he worked at The Washington Post and other news outlets. @stanfordc

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